Sunday, May 22, 2016

Eyes Can Help Monitor Huntington’s Disease

About Huntington’s Disease

We now know that certain eye tests may help serve as “biomarkers” for the progression of Huntington’s Disease as well as help understand whether some of the new medications prescribed might be helping to slow its progress. Huntington's Disease is an inherited disease that causes the progressive breakdown and degeneration of nerve cells in the brain. Huntington's disease has a broad impact on a person's functional abilities and usually results in movement, thinking and psychiatric disorders. Most people with Huntington's Disease develop signs and symptoms in their 30s or 40s, but the onset of disease may be earlier or later in life. Medications are available to help manage the symptoms of Huntington's Disease, but treatments can't prevent the physical, mental and behavioral decline associated with the condition.


Eye Problems with Huntington’s Disease

One of the earliest and most recognizable eye problems of Huntington’s Disease is a change in eye movements or “saccades” where there is a lag initiating an eye movement to look at something and/or an involuntary reflex saccadic movement that the person can’t control. This loss of eye movement control is quite common. Recent research using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) testing that we do right in our offices allows us to study the health of the retinal nerve fiber layer and the health of the nerve fibers around the center of vision, called the macula. What we know is the thinning of the nerve fiber layer on OCT, along with a loss of the macular volume is an indicator of the progression of the disease and can serve to monitor that progression.

If you or someone you know has Huntington’s Disease or questions about eye problems with Huntington’s Disease please call Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center at219-464-8223, or visit Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center, Google+ or facebook.com/nwindianaeyeandlaser.

Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center offices are located at 502 Marquette Street, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383 and 1001 South Edgewood Drive, Knox, Indiana 46354.